NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An inmate is asking for a chance at freedom 35 years after a brutal series of crimes.
Governor Andrew Cuomo granted Judith Clark — an imprisoned radical jailed in the infamous Brink’s robbery of 1981 — clemency on New Year’s Eve. As CBS2’s Lou Young reports, the decision is not sitting well with some in the Rockland community who are still scarred by the bloodshed.
“The governor has betrayed all of us and has perverted the scales of justice,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said Wednesday. “Judith Clark is a cold blooded killer. Judith Clark is a domestic terrorist.”
Judith Alice Clark was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison for being the getaway driver in the Oct. 20. 1981 doomed armored truck heist. The governor reduced her sentence to 35 years to life to give her a chance at parole.
She was a member of the Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army back then, “appropriating” funds in Nyack, they said — a bloody failure that left a security guard and two police officers dead.
Mary Laporta was Officer Waverly Brown’s girlfriend at the time.
“I think about him all the time,” she said. “I love him, I just love him and I miss him so much.”
There now stands a memorial where the two officers were killed — a thruway entrance roadblock that was ambushed by the gang as they tried to escape. Clark didn’t fire a weapon, but as a driver in one of the vehicles she was ruled criminally liable and convicted.
The governor believes she deserves a measure of mercy.
“She talked about her sorrow and her complicity and why she did it,” he said earlier this week. “I found her very impressive overall and I think she’s going to be impressive to the parole board.”
Robert Van Cura was police chief in South Nyack that day.
“I think she’s done some good things in prison and I think that earns her some form of mercy and starts to pay back the debt that she owes to our society,” he said. “But I don’t think letting her our of prison is in the cards.”
Thanks to the governor, she has a chance at release she didn’t have before.
“It’s a courageous act by the governor,” Pace Law School Professor Bennet Gershman told CBS2. “I have to say, because there’s no question that what she did in killing law enforcement officials in the line of duty was horrible.”
Mary Crowley — sister of one of the victims — vows to keep the pressure on.
“I will speak to the parole board and of course my message will be she should stay in prison,” she said.
She may have to deliver that message in only a matter of weeks.